Wednesday November 26th 2014
My favorite musicals have always been about dark, disturbing subject matter. Phantom of the Opera is about a deformed, murderous outcast who falls in love with a beautiful young singer. Sweeney Todd is about a sadistic, cannibalistic barber. Jekyll and Hyde is about a scientist who develops a split personality for the sake of a scientific experiment. Urinetown is about a town who’s water completely dries up. Into the Woods is about various fantasy characters learning difficult, disturbing life lessons. Candide is about two young people who learn through various horrific incidents (rape, torture, murder, etc.) that life is unfair, unjust and unkind, but they must do the best they can. Les Miz is about poor people who are all murdered fighting a hopeless battle against the government. West Side Story is about two people from different cultures who fall in love, one of which is murdered at the end. Dark musicals go into places of the human mind that fascinate me. They challenge and excite me.
My two favorite musicals have always been Sweeney Todd and Phantom. Both characters fascinate me. They aren’t good people with good intentions by any means. Both are murders. Both have distorted views on the world. Both think and act in ways I never would. If I met either of them in person, I’d probably be absolutely disgusted and terrified. So why do I commiserate with them within the context of the show? I think it’s because you get into their head and realize why they do what they do. They are both anti-heroes. They do evil things because evil is done to them. Erik, for example, extorts the managers, blackmails Christine, and murders people left and right. He even gets away with it! Yet, in the show, you see he is actually a sensitive musical genius with a simple desire to be loved. It’s therefore easy to feel compassion for him. Sweeney Todd slits people’s throats and baked them into pies, but in the show he is falsely imprisoned so a lecherous old judge can have sex with his wife. See? Bad is done to them, so you feel for them. Well, I do anyway.